James Bond sequel delayed until November amid virus outbreak

In this file photo taken on February 28, 2020, a woman wearing a facemask amid fears of the spread of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus walks past a poster for the new James Bond movie “No Time to Die” in Bangkok. MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP via Getty Images

The James Bond sequel “No Time to Die,” due for release next month, will be pushed back until November as Hollywood scrambles to cope with the global coronavirus outbreak.

MGM Holdings Inc., international distributor Universal Pictures and producers Michael Wilson and Barbara Broccoli made the decision after “careful consideration and thorough evaluation of the global theatrical marketplace,” according to a statement Wednesday.

“The film will be released in the U.K. on Nov. 12, 2020, with worldwide release dates to follow, including the U.S. launch on Nov. 25, 2020,” they said.

The virus, which has been spreading across the globe from its origin in Wuhan, China, is putting a damper on all sorts of communal activities, from trade shows to casino gambling. Movie theaters in China have been closed for weeks, and other countries, including Japan, South Korea, Italy and France, are seeing steep declines in attendance.

“No Time to Die” is expected to be the last Bond movie with Daniel Craig in the title role of the suave British secret agent. The franchise hasn’t had a new release since “Spectre” in 2015.

The founders of two Bond fans sites sent an open letter to the studios this week asking them to hold off on the debut, out of concern over the virus.

“It is time to put public health above marketing release schedules and the cost of canceling publicity events,” they said in the letter.

The film is an especially big deal for MGM, a smaller studio that counts Bond among its top franchises.

Through last weekend, the North American box office was up 7.3 per cent to $1.58 billion this year on the strength of hits such as “Bad Boys for Life,” the Oscar-nominated “1917” and “Sonic the Hedgehog.” But that could change.

Walt Disney Co. is forecasting a modest $40 million-plus for the opening this weekend of “Onward,” it newest Pixar animated film. That would put it at the low end of Pixar debuts despite generally positive reviews and little competition in the kids category.

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